Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What are they, and why do we need them?

Summary

  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are real-time patient records that provide medical information immediately and securely to authorized users.
  • EMRs are developed to share information with other health care providers (HCPs) and organizations.
  • EMRs allow continuous sharing of information within a digital health care infrastructure and can transform the way care is delivered.
  • These records help providers better manage care for patients. However, there are some potential problems associated with EMRs.

An Electronic Medical Record, also known as EMR, is a digital version of paper records in the clinician’s office. An EMR includes patients’ medical and treatment history in one practice.

In the present era, the use of EMR is growing rapidly in clinics, hospitals, and healthcare practices. More healthcare professionals are now switching to the digital compilation of patient data rather than trusting paper-based documents. In an EMR, the information is recorded in a format that can be stored of hard storage and backed up on the cloud.

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EMRs are an essential part of digital health and can-

  • Include allergies, diagnoses, medications, medical history, immunization dates, radiology images, treatment plans, and laboratory and test results of the patient.
  • Allow access to evidence-based tools that healthcare service providers can use to make patient care-related decisions.
  • Automate and streamline the workflow of the provider.

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Key features of an EMR

One of the critical features of an Electronic Medical Record is that health information can be generated and managed by authorized providers in a digital format. In addition, the information can be shared with other providers in one or more health care organizations.

EMRs are developed to share medical information with laboratories, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and clinics so that these organizations have information from all clinicians involved in a patient’s care.

Let us now have a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of using EMRs-

Benefits of using EMR

EMRs and the ability to exchange health information electronically can provide high quality and safe care to patients while generating tangible enhancements for the organization. The digital medical records help providers better manage patient care and provide improved health care by:

  • Simpler access for patients: EMR provides accurate and complete information about patients at the point of care. Digital medical records also enable quick access to patient records for more coordinated and efficient care.
  • Safer storage for medical records: Paper records can be easily misplaced or lost and can be accidentally destroyed or stolen if left unattended. Online EMR systems are much safer since the records are stored on a database that requires login credentials to access.
  • Easier to understand and more legible: Records on paper can prove unreliable over time. On the other hand, EMRs are complete documentation, legible and accurate. EMR stores data in a standardized format that is easier to look through directly.
  • Convenient and efficient: Electronic Medical Records help providers diagnose patients more effectively, reduce errors, and offer safer care. They also help providers improve efficiency and work-life balance.

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Drawbacks of using EMR

Every decision has some consequences, and EMR systems also have a few potential problems worth considering. Some of the problems or challenges include:

  • Cybersecurity issues: Although the digital storage of data can be safer than carrying physical papers, data breaches are becoming much more widespread. Generally, certified EMR systems have well-prepared security measures. Still, the members using the system should be trained in basic digital security to make sure that they do not leave their stations exposed to unauthorized access.
  • Frequent updates are required: Many healthcare professionals may be using the same electronic record system; hence it is important to maintain patient records updated after every consultation. Otherwise, HCPs could find inaccurate data leading to inappropriate approaches to treatment.
  • Risk of losing the data: If any technical error occurs and remote EMR software does not have a backup for all the information, there are chances that all crucial patient data may be lost.
  • EMR systems are expensive: The EMR systems are typically much more costly to implement, as the providers need to invest in the hardware, training, as well as support for installation of the software.

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